0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 8 DECEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 8 December 2010

\r\n

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

\r\n

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News. 

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Megrahi: The Scottish Government was offered a "parade of treats" by the Libyan Government in order to secure the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, according to the latest papers released by WikiLeaks. Cables from US diplomatic staff reveal that Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, also made explicit and "thuggish" threats to halt trade deals with Britain if Mr Megrahi died in jail – and that senior diplomats feared reprisals on British citizens. The newly-leaked papers show that ministers, including then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, believed that Mr Megrahi could have five years to live.  A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond last night dismissed the information contained in the reports as "tittle-tattle" and said the Scottish Government completely stood by its decision to release Mr Megrahi. (Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 1, Courier page 10, Daily Record page 10, Daily Mail page 7) 

\r\n

Fiscal autonomy: Ronald MacDonald and Paul Hallwood write in the Scotsman that the recent financial crisis means Scotland no longer has the option of taking half measures and must embrace fiscal responsibility. (Scotsman page 32) 

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Donald Trump: Donald Trump has again clashed with rival developers over plans to build a wind farm off the stretch of north-east coastline where he is creating a £750 million golf resort. The American billionaire has already started work on what he believes will be the greatest golf course in the world at the Menie Estate, near Balmedie. However, plans to site 11 turbines around three miles off the coast of nearby Blackdog have, once again, cast a shadow over his proposals. Those behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) are promising a potentially major economic spin-off. Mr Trump said he will fight to block the structures, which will stand at between 328ft and 394ft above sea level at low tide. (Press and Journal page 15)

\r\n

Transport

\r\n

Snow: Pressure was growing on the Scottish Government last night after the country\’s Transport Minister appeared to blame the wrong kind of weather forecast for the travel chaos that brought much of the central belt to a standstill in heavy snow. Police were today still working to clear hundreds of vehicles stuck or abandoned on key routes. Some travellers endured 15 hours trapped in their vehicles on Monday night as snow, ice and freezing fog left many major routes, such as the M8 and M9, impassable. There were reports that ice on some carriageways was so thick it had broken the blades on snowploughs. Many schools, which were closed for much of last week because of the bad weather, turned pupils away again today.  

\r\n

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson initially insisted that the authorities had done a first-class job in the face of "unforeseeable and extreme weather". He told BBC Radio Scotland that the government had prepared for one set of weather but "the advice we were working on did not meet the requirements". A spokesman for Transport Scotland said later that the Met Office alert level had remained at orange on Sunday night, and had not gone to a red alert. There will be a parliamentary statement on the travel chaos in Holyrood today and opposition politicians said serious questions need to be answered. (Scotsman page 2, Times page 1, Guardian page 17, Courier page 5, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Sun page 1) 

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Further student protests: Students in Dundee will take part in a day of protest against plans to raise tuition fees in England. Although the Scottish Government is yet to publish its plans on how to pay for university education, Scottish students fear the plans for English universities could have an impact north of the border. Student leaders fear people will not be able to afford to study in England and that Scottish universities will not be able to compete with their English counterparts, which will be able to increase their income by raising fees.

\r\n

Students in Dundee will walk out of classes at 11am on Wednesday before marching to the City Square for a rally at 11.30am. (Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Mail page 2) 

\r\n

Scottish education results: Scottish pupils are outperforming the rest of the UK in reading and maths, the Scottish Government said yesterday. Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) figures for 2009 released yesterday — the first featuring children educated wholly under a devolved curriculum — shows Scotland is above the international average in reading and science, and average in maths. PISA is based on assessments of 15-year-olds in 65 countries. The Scottish Government said that, overall, the country’s performance in all disciplines had levelled off since 2006, bringing to an end six years of decline. Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “This is the first PISA survey that covers the children of devolution. The 15-year-olds who took part in this survey will have been in school since 1999. They show that we have now firmly halted the previous slide in performance.” About 470,000 students from 65 countries took part in last year’s study. (Press and Journal page 15, Daily Express page 10)